MP Bob Seely’s campaign for more protection for Isle of Wight landscapes took a step forward today when the man tasked with reviewing designated landscapes in England, Julian Glover, visited the Island.
Mr Glover met with Bob and local representatives including the IW AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), IW Council, the IW farming community and Visit IW.
Mr Glover’s visit (3 June) was part of a fact-finding tour gathering evidence for the government’s Designated Landscape Review of both National Parks and AONBs. Mr Glover will produce a report later this year.
Mr Glover’s visit comes on the 70th anniversary of legislation designating land as national parks and AONBs.
The review is part of a commitment from Environment Secretary Michael Gove to conserve and enhance England’s most cherished landscapes through Defra's 25-year Environment Plan.
During the visit, Mr Glover met with key stakeholders who influence the AONB designation and was led on a tour showcasing the work of the IW AONB including stops at Compton Bay, IW Pearl, the Garlic Farm, Newchurch and Newtown.
Mr Glover, said: “I was very impressed to see first-hand how the Island community is clearly prepared to play a full part in enhancing and shaping its special and unique landscape.”
IW Cabinet Member for Environment and Heritage, John Hobart, said: “The meeting with Julian Glover was an informal and relaxed opportunity for a broad spectrum of Islanders to discuss the future of the AONB on our Island. We were yet again able to take the opportunity to press home to government the fact that our beautiful Island does not always fit the standard packaging. I am optimistic that Julian will have taken away with him the understanding that we are a special case with definite financial pressures”.
Bob said: “I am really pleased the Island is part of the government’s review and am keen to see the Island’s unique and special landscape recognised for its contribution to Britain. I also want the process for protecting landscapes to be much easier.
“We need more protection of the Island, possibly in the form of a new designation – an Island Park – which adequately preserves the beauty of our landscape and coastline yet does not preclude appropriate and sustainable development. The Island’s natural beauty is vital to its visitor economy, quality of life, many businesses, ecology, culture and we need to protect it for future generations.
“Just over half of the Island is classed as an AONB giving us some protection against over-development, but we are still vulnerable. Inappropriate developments are still being proposed on AONB land and we must fight these.
“Anyone wishing to protect our natural beauty can do so by signing my petition against the proposed Island Planning Strategy which demands 9,600 new homes over the next 15 years, many on greenfield sites.”